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Steam devs will need SMS verification to release game builds

Developers will have to register a phone number by October 24 if they ever want to update their game or add new users to their Steamworks account.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 11, 2023

2 Min Read
Logo for Valve's Steam marketplace.

Valve will now require Steam developers to use SMS verification. Starting Tuesday, October 24, developers will need a phone number associated with their account before publishing new versions of their game or adding new users to the account. 

Steam will text users a confirmation code if they need to update a game, but a code won't be needed for a game that isn't out yet or is updating a beta version. And for adding new accounts, the main admin account will need to input the code before sending an invite to a new user.

"As part of a security update," wrote Valve, "any Steamworks account setting builds live on the default/public branch of a released app will need to have a phone number associated with their account, so that Steam can text you a confirmation code before continuing. 

"This change will go live on October 24, 2023, so be sure to add a phone number to your account now."

More security, more problems

The phone number requirement serves as an extra layer of security similar to two-step verification. In games, the method has been controversial: last year, both Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II used an SMS Protect system where players had to register their phone number in order to access multiplayer.

Both games used the authentication system to verify the number attached to a user's Battle.net account. In the case of Overwatch 2, it was particularly damaging to those with prepaid phone numbers (or who lacked their own personal phone), and Blizzard Entertainment later removed the rule for most Overwatch players.

Earlier this year, the ESRB filed a proposal to the FTC for using facial recognition. Known as the Privacy-Protective Facial Age Estimation, it aims to help verify that anyone buying mature-rated games is a legal adult.

Under the proposal, an individual would take a picture and submit it for verification, after which the photo would be immediately deleted. It's meant to benefit adults and legal guardians, particularly those without a government ID.  

Valve noted that the SMS verification method will eventually be standard for other Steamworks features. In a brief FAQ, the developer was blunt in saying that those who don't have a phone number to receive text messages will just have to get one if they ever want to add users to an account or update their game.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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